CAR-FREE SUNDAYS IN JAKARTA

If you ask anybody who’s been to Jakarta, he would most likely say that one of his unforgettable (or maybe forgettable) experience in this city is the heavy traffic.  On a typical day, frustrated  people get stuck in Jakarta’s infamous macet (traffic jam) praying to high heavens that they make it to their appointments, or that their bladders won’t explode in transit, or that they won’t choke on the fumes from the vehicles.

But once a week, the main thoroughfare transforms into a people-friendly zone and virtually becomes a park of sorts.  Every Sunday, from 6:00-11:00 AM, Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin are closed to private and public vehicles (except for the TransJakarta).  Jalan Sudirman is Jakarta’s counterpart to our Manila’s EDSA so imagine that whole stretch being closed to traffic, what a bliss!  What started as a once-a-month environmental drive in 2007 garnered support and encouragement from the public that it became a regular Sunday  pollution reduction program in 2012.

And because Jl. Sudirman is a stone’s throw away from our building, it has become our family’s Sunday morning exercise to run/walk/bike along Jakarta’s busiest street.  So if you happen to be in the city on a Sunday,  enjoy a short escape from the bustling macet and head on to Jl. Sudirman for a morning of fitness, fun, food, and people watching.

Sharing with you some car-free Sunday scenes below…

people.joggers.bikers

The TransJakarta is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

The TransJakarta (bus rapid transit) is the only motorized vehicle allowed in Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin.

people.skateboard2

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Little Boy at the most popular Jakarta landmark, the Sudirman Roundabout (Bundaran)

Enjoy leisure or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Enjoy leisurely or serious biking in front of the perennial bottleneck, Grand Indonesia.

Car-free Sundays are perfect recreational time for family and friends.

people.KOREANS

people.family

people.father & daughterspeople.friends

Also a preferred day and venue for various programs, promotions and causes…

cause.2

cause.1

Save Our Sharks!

Save Our Sharks!

cause.dance

Flash mob!

Flash mob!

The traditional Indonesian "Ondel Ondel" or folk puppet performance

The traditional Indonesian “Ondel Ondel” or folk puppet performance

Don’t worry about getting hungry and thirsty along the way ’cause you won’t.

food carts

food cart 2food.siopao

food.people eating

Water station in almost every corner

Water station in almost every corner

Coffee to go! Anon'ng sabi ng Starbucks? :)

Coffee to go! Ano’ng sabi ng Starbucks? 🙂

If you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon some free sampling treats for freeloaders like me hehe…

food sampling 1

Free fruit cups for everyone!

Free fruit cups for everyone!

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd :)

I always know where to find Little Boy when he gets lost in the crowd 🙂

HOME RUN!

HOME RUN!

“A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content.”

Happy Sunday everyone!!!

sites.blue sky & bldg

THREE YEARS OF JAKARTA JOURNEY… and Counting

Three years ago today, I came to Jakarta, Indonesia with only a suitcase and a heart full of dreams and anxieties.  I left my family, friends and career back in Manila to start a new life with Dear Hubby and Little Boy.

It felt like only yesterday when this great big adventure began (click here for the story).   Three years hence, I am now promoted as the CEO of this house making sure that all household operations run smoothly… never mind if I burned some toasts.  And speaking of promotion, I have leveled up from  the Little Boy’s “cockroach playmate” to a hostaged princess!  My greatest achievement so far if you ask me.  Yes, Little Boy and I have already established a real mother-son bonding ever since I decided to take on this new “career path”.  No more earthworm and insect roles for me on our playtime!

The prospect of moving to a new country where you don’t know anybody could be quite scary but Indonesia has been good to us, we felt right at home.  While other foreigners would complain about the pollution, traffic, corruption, etc. we would shrug them off and move on to the next challenge.  Thank you Manila for preparing us for the tough times :)! It’s been a fun roller coaster ride and I have come to appreciate our host country’s culture, people, language and food.  I’m still discovering a lot about this city, this country, about me and about ourselves.

Thank you to all our new friends who took us in as their own family.  Thank you to the Pinoys who have been here before us and welcomed us like old friends.  Man, the Pinoy hospitality is insanely alive anywhere in the world.  Mabuhay! 🙂

Those clothes on that suitcase from three years ago can hardly fit anymore and my dreams certainly got bigger and grander.  I still get those anxiety pangs once in a while but (to borrow a line from a movie) “I’m a lot braver, bolder and fiercer now” ever ready to head to where ever this adventure would take us and make wonderful memories out of it.

Cheers to all of us and may we always be eager to face a new day, a new month, a new life ahead!!!

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

This photo was taken on our first morning in Jakarta.

ORGANIZING A 7th BIRTHDAY PARTY IN JAKARTA

andres solo w cakes

The last time we threw a birthday party for Little Boy was when he turned one.  They say turning seven is a milestone to any child because this signals the start of  “growing up” hence, a party.  With barely three weeks to prepare and a specific theme as a guideline, I began flexing my event-planning muscles.

This should come easy for me as I’m used to organizing and supervising big and small, corporate and family  events.  From product launches, sales conventions, weddings, birthdays, etc.  Yes, it should be easy…. IF we were in the Philippines… where I knew the right people to call and the right places to get most bargains from.  BUT we are in Jakarta, a galaxy far far away, and therein lies the challenge!  How do I throw a simple party in a country where its wealthy families stage lavish kiddie parties that are more expensive than my wedding?!

Push the right buttons, you can’t do it alone.

GOODIE BAGS & CUPCAKES
Mary Ramba (which I think should add ANGEL to her name), my co-mommy since kindergarten, had been a lot of help.  She made our personalized Star Wars pillows for giveaways despite the short lead time.  Her workshop is located in Bandung but shuttled every now and then from Jakarta to oversee the production.  She also made the customized cupcakes that were a hit at the party.  If she didn’t become busy entertaining visiting guests from abroad, she would have made the birthday cake as well, but she referred me to a very reliable cake maker.star wars pillows

pillows jorjacupcakes.pyramid

cupcakes.girls

BIRTHDAY CAKE
Dominique (Monique) Sanda of Sugamom Cakes was my “it” girl for the cake.  It was originally her partner Herawati  who I first called but she was out of town and graciously referred me to Monique.  I never had a difficult time dealing with her because first of all, she speaks good English and secondly, she was willing to work around our own idea and design.  If there would be any issues, she would communicate them with me right away.  I also appreciate her resourcefulness when, on the day of the party, her delivery guy didn’t show up and she delivered the cake herself.  That was the only time that I met her in person, our communications have always been thru emails or BBMs only but she got my instructions to the dot. The cake was exactly how I envisioned it to be and tasted heavenly!

His toy as a cake-topper brings a personal touch to his birthday cake.

His toy as a cake-topper brings a personal touch to his birthday cake.

These girls can't resist the chocolate fondant cake!

These girls can’t resist the chocolate fondant cake!

Happy with their dessert.

Happy with their dessert.

SNAPY
Dear Hubby designed a special birthday banner for the Little Boy but the challenge was to look for a supplier who can print it well.  I came across Snapy when I was dropping off Little Boy to school.  It’s easy to find a Snapy center in Jakarta because it’s everywhere!  In fact, there are two branches just along Jl. Mampang Prapatan, I picked the one closest to the school for convenient logistics.  My 225cm x 300cm vinyl (tarpaulin) banner was done overnight and without any revisions needed.

We maximized this banner by making this a photo wall too.

We maximized this banner by making this a photo wall too.

With our Pinoy friends.

With our Pinoy friends.

with Pak Dahryanto and family

with Pak Dahryanto and family

TAMANI KIDS KAFE
An ideal place for playdates, Tamani Kafe is also a perfect venue for birthday parties.  The indoor playground provided enough space for kids to run around which made me decide not to have parlor games anymore.  Based on experience, kids wouldn’t want to get pulled out from the playground just to join in some boring games and watch the scary clown do his tricks.  We just let the kids play while the parents are free to catch up and/or get to know each other.  Andriani, the party coordinator in Tamani, was very helpful which makes all these party preparations quite easy for me.

climbing 2natw & daisy

DSC_0199

boys will be boys

boys will be boys

girls know how to have fun too!

girls know how to have fun too!

kids eating

nate.andres.liambambino momsmoms

tamani 1

tamani 3

Thank God for friends (and friends of friends) and reliable suppliers! Because of them, the first birthday party that we ever had here in Jakarta, Indonesia had been stress-free.  I’m grateful too for the presence of Little Boy’s closest friends. We didn’t need a grand celebration, just their gift of friendship made everything more fun and memorable. Thank you everyone, may the force be with you!

DIRECTORY:

MARY RAMBA
HP:  +6287 8851 41640
email:  maryramba@gmail.com

DOMINIQUE (MONIQUE) SANDA of Sugamom Cakes
HP:  +6281 8855 992
BBM pin: 2355F579
Facebook:  Sugamom Cakes

SNAPY
Click here for the list of their branches

TAMANI KIDS KAFE
Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 11:00 – 18:00
4th floor Jl. Kemang Raya No. 5
Mampang Prapatan District,
South Jakarta 12730
Tel. No. (021) 719 8077

PORKGASM IN JAKARTA

Living in a Muslim country has somehow made us shy away from pork for a while, something our arteries have to thank us for.  Out of respect to our help’s religious beliefs, we never serve pork in our household or if ever we do, it’s got to be on a weekend when she’s on a day off.  There would be times when  we would go to any Chinese resto and break this self-imposed pork fasting just to satisfy our sinful cravings.

So when our Pinay friend Phoebe invited us to a Lechon Lunch for only 250,000 IDR which includes lechon, drinks and desserts, my reply was “You had us at LECHON”.  Who can say no to a chance to see our Filipino friends and of course the authentic Pinoy lechon  which was prepared by a Pinoy chef!  So off we trooped to Alex’s in Kuningan to taste the three little pigs.

I GOT YOU BABE!
The superstars of the lunch were three little suckling pigs slow-roasted in the oven at 75°C for 16 hours(!) then re-roasted in wood-fire oven just minutes before serving.  The latter is the essential step in making that crispy skin layer good enough to give you multiple porkgasm. The crackling skin and the tender succulent meat seasoned with just the right herbs and spices just melt in your mouth. It was so good I think I died and went to swine heaven.  Okay, a little exaggeration there but any lechon lover will get what I mean.

And the FUN begins...

And the FUN begins…

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

THE CAST OF THE FOOD PORN
saladside dishpizza

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!

 

THE COMPANYfriendsnew friends1new friends2

THE BIG BAD-ASS WOLF
I’ve always known Raj Abat as a New York-trained Filipino chef who is now based in Jakarta.  He’s a cool guy who warmly accommodates us when we dine in his previous resto posting.  He would join us and the other Pinoys for some beer and potluck and would watch the Manny Pacquiao fights with us.  He and his lovely wife are expecting their first baby soon.  This was all I knew about Raj until I Googled him for some info in this blog entry.  Whoah, I didn’t know there was a rock star in our midst all along! Check out an excerpt of what I found.

“At a glance, Raj Abat’s lean, austere and tattooed appearance might trick us into thinking that he’s chief of some gangs. Well, a bunch of gangsters indeed, but these are experts with knives, laddles and forks, and their territories are not the streets, but the kitchens. If you didn’t know Raj Abat, you would probably never guessed that he is a Filipino-born New Yorker and is a Corporate Chef who has a long list of experience working in some of the most desired celebrity chefs’ kitchens like Jean-Georges in New York City and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. ”
Culinary Bonanza

If you’re a Pinoy in Jakarta or a pork-starved food lover, or all of the above, it’s a shame not to sample Raj’s specialty.  He’s currently a Corporate Chef at the Alila Hotel (of the Alila Chain of Properties) but you can visit his Facebook page, RAJ ABAT COOKS to check out what’s cooking and when his next Swine Feast will be.

Unassuming cool guy.  No toques and uniforms, just a bandana.  No bad temper, just badass tattoos.

No toques and uniforms, just a bandana. No bad celebrity chef temper, just bad-ass tattoos.

HILOT AND OTHER DRUGS

I’ve lost count how many times this annoying flu bug has bitten me this year. It sucks when you’re stuck in bed with your itchy throat, runny nose, fiery eyes, sore body and worst of all, conked out taste buds!  Thanks to this tried and tested combination of meds and massage,  I was blissfully knocked out in coma for a few days and hardly minded any pain:
Bioflu (from the Philippines), Berocca (double dose),  and a wintergreen hilot (traditional massage).  The latter is my favorite as I am a sucker for massages and I’m happy to share with you one of our best discoveries here in Indonesia: Balsem Otot Geliga.

We fondly call this badass babe “Otot”

Our Indonesian helper uses this on her joints every night and once had me try it during one of my migraine attacks, that was the beginning of our love affair with Geliga.  It’s actually an ointment for muscle pains but it somehow has magical effect on me when used as a massage ointment for my headache, even Dear Hubby keeps a bottle on his bedside table because it relieves him of muscle pains from his sports and workout.  Now this may sound funny to the Filipinos as “otot” has a different meaning to us, it may mean “muscle” in Indonesia but it means “fart” in the Philippines.  However it elicits a smile on our face every time we mention the word, this mean babe is everything but a joke.  It means serious business and we swear by it.  It feels hot(!) when rubbed on your skin but eventually gives that soothing cool feeling afterwards.  Any massage with Geliga leaves me in deep slumber and gives me a refreshed feeling the next day.

At a risk of this blog entry sounding like an advertorial, I still highly recommend it.  If you’re in Indonesia and suddenly felt a need for your good old Katinko or Vicks but don’t have it, pick Geliga from the nearby drugstore for that guaranteed body ache relief.  It’s the best smelling “otot” too :).

ONE NIGHT IN JAKARTA

What would you do if you have twenty-four hours to spend in Jakarta?  I had to answer this recently for a visiting friend.

I’ve known Mike for almost two decades now, we met at a small advertising agency where we both had our first jobs. We eventually  left the company and have not seen each other since, he moved to Dubai while I took on two more jobs before I got based here in Jakarta.  Last week, Mike took an Indonesian holiday and went to the famous Bali and Borobudur.  And even if Jakarta is not exactly a popular tourist destination, he extended his stay to the city just to see me.  Well, he sort of didn’t have a choice after my constant  F.O. (Friendship Over) threats. Never mind if it was only an overnight stay, just having someone around thrilled me big time.

I met up with him after I dropped the Little Boy to school and Dear Hubby to his office on Thursday morning.  It was nonstop chatter and laughter since then. Here’s what we did for the next twenty-four hours:

LUNCH AT KOI KEMANG
Koi is a chic restaurant in the Kemang area, South of Jakarta.  Aside from its great food and ambiance, Koi is conveniently located near the Little Boy’s school. This made us maximize our brunch time and saved us travel time when we did our school pick-up later on.

SCHOOL PICK-UP
Yes, Mike obliged to accompany me to my mommy duties and sat through Little Boy’s soccer trial that afternoon.  We laughed at how we never imagined we’d be babysitting a child together eighteen years ago.

Goofing around after school

A brief timeout from all the chatter

DINNER AT FOOD LOUVER, GRAND INDONESIA
My first restaurant of choice for dinner was at Social House but there was an ongoing event that night and they couldn’t accept table reservations.  We went to Grand Indonesia’s food court, The Food Louver,  instead which had elegant interiors that’s unlikely of a regular food court in a Philippine mall. Since Mike is into design, he appreciated the design details and found it interesting.

The entrance to the food court

The hallway that leads to the food stalls

Hand wash area

And the food selection begins

Wall art

The eating area that’s been witness to our juicy stories that night

DRINKS AT SOCIAL HOUSE

Dear Hubby met up with us later on that evening.  We went back to Social House (the event was done by that time) so he could have dinner while Mike and I have some drinks.  There were more catching up stories between Mike and the Hubby.  I went to bed that night exhausted from all the talking but couldn’t wait ’til morning for our next chika session.

The vast selection of wines at Social House

MORNING SKYPE

Pardon the poor photo quality but this was the highlight of the day

The next morning, Dear Hubby was kind enough to bring the Little Boy to school so I could spend time with Mike who’s leaving after lunch. We just stayed at home and Skyped with another good friend, Jurizz.  She worked with us in the same company and is now based in New York. It was a R-I-O-T, just like the old times!  I swear I can’t remember when I last laughed that hard, the kind that makes you tear a little and hurts your rib cage.  It was an entire morning of laughter, banter and reminiscing.  Too bad we had to say our goodbyes as Mike had to catch his flight and Jurizz had to put her kids to sleep.

Aahh, I miss my friends! I miss being crazy with them.  I love how we haven’t seen each other in a long time and things haven’t changed.  Thank you, Jurizz (and husband Oliver), for staying up late to chat with us.  Thank you, Mike, for including Jakarta in your itinerary, even for just one night.

***

Directory:

KOI KEMANG
Jl. Kemang Raya No 72 – Jakarta Selatan
Phone +62 21 719 5668,
kemang@koiindonesia.com
next to Pertamina Petrol Station

FOOD LOUVER
Grand Indonesia Shopping Town,
Sky Bridge, 3rd Floor (Jalan Mohammad Husni Thamrin No. 1),
Jakarta Pusat, DKI Jakarta 10310, Indonesia

SOCIAL HOUSE
Grand Indonesia East Mall
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No.1
Jakarta, Indonesia 10320
Phone +6221 235 81818; +6281 3877 02008
info@ismayagroup.com

MOMMA’S MOJO

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really digging this motherhood gig and loving every second I spend with the fam but a little respite from nursery rhymes would be a good break, don’t you think? It’s been afternoon play dates and kiddie parties for me for some time and I’m sort of missing the night life.  My previous job would often take me to grand product launch events with unlimited booze, a staple when working for the biggest beer manufacturer in the Philippines.

Last Saturday, Dear Hubby and I got invited to his client’s product launch party.  Can you believe that?  I’m going to a partaaayy! *happy dance* 🙂  We took our dear family friend, Anna Mae, who was game enough to join us despite having arrived from an out of town trip that evening. Oh the energy of the youth!

Prepping for this party felt like going back on the dating scene after being single for a long time.  What shall I wear?  Do I have the shoes to match it? Which lipstick shade is perfect?  What about the blings?  Shoot, my nails are too short for a manicure! Aahh, I miss these girly problems!

I giddily rummaged through my closet to look for one of my prized possessions.  And there it is, underneath my school-friendly mommy clothes is my little black tube blouse! This little piece of clothing my friend gave me when we were still in Manila, and the very same one which I never got to wear since we moved to Jakarta two years ago is finally going to party.  I also took out my chandelier earrings which I have worn only once, and my Steve Madden killer heels which all of a sudden felt uncomfortable. I must’ve been wearing my Chuck Taylors and Crocs for far too long.  And of course, my most favorite part of any party prep: THE MAKE-UP.  I remember Dear Hubby’s funny reaction a long time ago when he learned that there are about a hundred shades of lipsticks for us to choose from.  He thought that it was just “red” and “pink” not knowing that RED could mean Russian red, brick red, rogue, ruby, crimson, etc. and PINK could be cotton candy, bubblegum, orchid, carnation and so on.  See baby, I don’t need to be an artist like you to know the color palette.

We had a blast at the party, never mind if I had to be assisted like an invalid at some point to prevent me from toppling over in my high heels. Darn, the Chucks would’ve been the better choice!  Judging from the other events and the bars I’ve been to in Jakarta so far, I must say that the Indonesians know how to party.  This one was no different, it was fun as usual. The SILENT DISCOwhich I just learned is very popular in Europe and the US was a novelty for me!

Here are some of the photos from the event.

The venue (Plaza Barat Senayan) is an open field but they built a dome so the party would have both outdoor and indoor areas.

Data base gathering

The DJ’s booth

Checking out the SILENT DISCO

“Silent disco has become a common name for a disco where people dance to music listened to on wireless headphones.  Rather than using a speaker system, music is broadcast via an FM-transmitter with the signal being picked up by wireless headphone receivers worn by the participants…” – Wikipedia

The touch-screen wall that showed our photo (taken earlier at the photo booth) after we “blast” those green balls.

Their version of ICED DRINK

Cheers to a balanced family and social life!!!

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